Updated: Oct 7, 2022
As the owner of an internet marketing company, creating an effective SEO report for my clients is a necessary evil. With so many resources out there on what you should include in your reports, it can be quite overwhelming. In this guide, I’m going to lay out what I include in my SEO reports for clients and why I don’t include other KPIs others might be telling you to include.
Why Create SEO Reports for Clients?
When I first started my agency BartX, I was very confused about everything related to client reports. In fact, I never used to send reports for my work. The problem with this approach is that your clients get confused with results. Sure they may notice an uptick in calls and leads, but SEO takes time.
A SEO report for your clients is a way to show them that yes, the money they are spending is a great investment for growth. Without reporting, you’ll be spending even more time giving updates every few months.
How to Create a SEO Report for Your Clients
1. Determine Client Objectives
Every industry has different needs, so you need to figure out what’s important to your client. If you work exclusively with one industry, like I do with my mental health marketing brand TherapistX, figuring out what this type of client wants to see becomes easier. If you work with many different industries, you may need to create separate objectives for each type.
Here are some examples of goals your clients may have:
Increase phone calls
Get more quality traffic to their website
Sell more products
By setting clear client objectives, you can map out why you’re doing what you’re doing in SEO. Costs you charge your client can then be easily justified. You can even upsell more services after you show them results that benefit their bottom line.
2. Establish Client KPIs
Your KPIs for SEO clients need to be defined and match with the client objectives above. You should always show results in numbers, it’s hard to argue with those. You can also easily pull in numbers using a handy SEO marketing client dashboard that automates the process so you can have it set up and let it work its magic.
Let’s review a few objectives mapped with KPIs/sources:
Objective: Increase phone calls
KPI: Phone calls
Source 1: Website
Source 2: Google Maps
In the example above, you focus on the main KPI (phone calls) that ties to the objective, but it’s important to keep the sources tracked too. I usually include 2 sources for this objective. You can also use paid tools like Call Rail to import phone calls into a Google Sheet and track a bunch of pertinent information (like where they came from, their name, their city, etc.). For most clients, I will just show a number for the overall KPI and each of the 2 sources each month.
Another common objective might be to increase organic traffic:
Objective: Increase organic traffic
Source 1: Google
Source 2: Yahoo
Source 3: Bing
In the above example, you can easily pull in this information into a dashboard monthly from Google Analytics. I always preface this objective to clients as an indicator that things are going in the right direction because the more quality visitors a client’s website is bringing in (especially from organic traffic), the more potential they have to get a phone call, get a lead, or sell a product.
3. Build and Share Your Report
Once you have determined your client’s objectives and mapped KPIs & Sources to each objective, it’s time to build out your report. You can do this manually, or you can save time and have it function automatically via a marketing client dashboard. The beautiful thing about having your report created (especially if it’s automated) is that you can replicate it for each client you have. Sure, you’ll need a little maintenance up front to get the wheels turning, but once you get it set up you’ll start tracking KPIs for the life of the customer.
How to Create a Report Manually
To create your SEO client report manually, There are a few steps:
You’ll need to set up tracking to make sure Google Analytics is actually tracking leads, phone calls, visitors from organic sources, and any other KPI you need to track. I typically set this up in Google Analytics via “goals”, which allows me to see when someone calls or submits a lead form.
You’ll need to create a shareable document (I’d recommend google sheets) or an excel sheet, and create labels for each KPI on the X Axis. On the Y axis, you’ll need to add each month (i typically add at least 12 months).
You can then manually add results each month. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes each month for each client depending on how many KPIs you’re tracking.
Send the report to client each month
How to Create a Report Automatically
To create your SEO client report automatically, you can follow these steps:
You’ll need to set up your Google Analytics to make sure you’re tracking all the important KPIs your client(s) care about. As mentioned above, I typically use Google Analytics’ “goal” feature.
Get an automated report built. Monthly updates to the report are automated so you don’t have to spend any time creating them. These reports can also be automatically sent to your clients.
What To Include in Your SEO Reports for Clients
I’ve learned over the last 5 years as the owner of an internet marketing company what clients want to see. Many times, companies that build SEO reports for marketing agencies include unnecessary KPIs that will only bring you more client pain points. You’ll end up spending more time explaining the report, and also explaining why these numbers are fluctuating down some months.
While each industry a marketing agency works with is different, there are some standard KPIs you should consider including in your report. For service based businesses like lawyers, mental health professionals, and dentists, I’ve found these base KPIs work great:
Website Phone Calls
Website Form Submissions
Google My Business Phone Calls
Revenue from products sold
Other Specific Client Goals (that relate to direct revenue)
Each one of the above are important because they are great indicators of overall business growth. For example, if you have 5 phone calls from your website in January, but 25 phone calls in April, there’s a great chance that the client’s business is growing from new customers contacting them.
Organic traffic can be a fluffy KPI if you’ve created useless content that attracts readers not remotely related to your product or service. However, if you’re creating content that directly pertains to your client’s product or service, you can connect that traffic with other important KPIs like phone calls and form submissions. This is very easy to do when you create “goals” in Google analytics. You can show a report of website form submissions and the pages they came from before to get to that form submission page. If your conversion rate is 3% and you have 100 visitors to your site, and the number of quality visitors increases to 200 (while holding a steady 3% conversion rate), that is a significant and direct correlation to your SEO services bringing in more potential customers for your client.
Other specific client goals could include things like calendly meeting invitations. In the case of one of my immigration lawyer clients, she has two calendly forms at the bottom in her footer that she charges money to schedule a consultation. These would be direct revenue generators and great KPIs to track.
When I set these up, I included a “destination page” on my client’s website after a person fills out the form, which I can track in Google Analytics as a “goal” completion.
You should figure out what’s important to your client AND what will contribute to their bottom line. The more instances you can show growth in the longer they will pay your service fees.
What Not to Include in Your SEO Reports for Clients
So, contrary to a lot of other SEO client reporting guides, I am going to tell you not to include the following unless your client specifically wants these KPIs: In some cases, a client may want to see some of these specific metrics. You can push back gently but at the end of the day, you should provide what your client really wants. Most clients won’t even mention what they want in their reports, so you’ll have the power to include the most important KPIs.
Below are some KPIs I’d recommend not including in your marketing and SEO client reports:
Keyword tracking - I know, i know, this is what a lot of agencies include. It’s great when your keywords go up up up. But what happens when some keywords start losing a little ground in rankings? From my experience, many clients will waste a lot of your time by asking about each little keyword that slips 5 ranking positions. It saves me a lot of time to not include keyword tracking in my reports. Of course keyword tracking can be automated, but it will require a premium membership to a site like semrush.com.
Average session duration - Did the client hire you for UI or UX? If not, don’t include this one.
Bounce rate - Again, if you’re not doing UI or UX, you don’t need to include this. When you create a lot of blog content, readers specifically land on that piece of content instead of your home page. Readers want to consume that information in your blog, so bounce right will most likely be pretty high. Your goal is to try to push those readers to a specific service or product on your site, or to take a strategic action, like downloading a gated PDF to capture their information. I would focus less on the bounce rate and more on the overall action (like PDF downloads, sales, leads)
Time on site - This is not important for most clients unless you can show it increasing their bottom line. Like the above KPI, the action happening by potential clients are the most important KPIs happening. Time on site can certainly indicate that your potential clients like your content. I still feel that it is a vanity metric that many owners don’t need to know about unless they specifically want to know. If your client does want to see this information, I’d recommend showing a comparison between time on different blog posts and pages to compare apples to apples.
Backlink tracker - Like keyword tracking, you win links and you lose links. You don’t need to show your client(s) the list of ingredients when you bring out their main course dinner.
Other pieces of information that don’t align with your client’s goals
There are hundreds or even thousands of things you could show your client. But make life easier on yourself (and your time) by including only KPIs that align to your client’s objectives. When you show KPIs that directly reflect the value that you’re bringing to your client, they will keep paying you month after month.
How Often Should I Send a Report to My Clients?
I would recommend sending your SEO client report monthly, or having it automated to send monthly. You can also do quarterly if you feel like it may take more time to show results as SEO tends to be a marathon rather than a sprint.
Creating a SEO report monthly for your clients will keep your clients out of the dark when it comes to knowing how your SEO and marketing services are going. I would highly recommend telling your clients that the first 4 to 6 months will be slower as SEO campaigns take time to accomplish. I typically ask for at least 12 months to properly build our SEO campaign, and back that up with other client’s data to prove my point.
With an automated marketing client dashboard like Pineapple offers, there are really no negatives to having reports created monthly for your clients.
Quarterly will save you some time in conversations with your clients explaining results, but may leave some clients in the dark not knowing if your services are effective.
Conclusion on How Often to Send a SEO Report to Clients
While I typically build reports monthly for clients, I can see how an agency would start with quarterly reports. One thing to remember is that when you’re kicking butt and doing a great job, reports are a stamp of approval for your clients to continue buying from you. But like the stock market, some months will reveal down numbers. You should be prepared to ease your customers’ concerns before this happens. Feel free to use the “stock market” analogy, as long as the overall trend is going up your customer will most likely be very understanding.
SEO Client Report Example
Here is a SEO client report example that highlights important KPIs my clients care about including: phone calls, appointments, and website visits:
As you can see above, it's not overly complicated. The example contains enough information to show your clients that progress is happening. Your clients can view this dashboard at any time as it is hosted in the cloud, meaning, you don't have to send elaborate emails each month and keep up with files (with different names) on your computer.
Get Custom SEO Reports Created for Your Clients
If you’re looking to get custom automated reports created for your clients, I’d highly recommend Pineapple Consulting Firm. While there are other companies that can create reports, I’ve found that they aren’t nearly as customizable as Pineapple. Each industry you work with has specific needs, and each report you deliver should be unique to map KPIs with their objectives which is exactly what Pineapple Consulting Firm prides themselves on - quality and custom dashboards with support.
Get your marketing client dashboard created custom for your unique clients.
About Anthony Bart
I would highly recommend working with Jack at Pineapple Consulting Firm. He will help you build a custom SEO report for your client(s) that will save you time each month. If you have more than 5 clients, the time it takes to build reports each month can really add up, that’s why automated reports are a crucial part of running a streamlined marketing agency.
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